Jason Talbot re: Orchard Gulch Trailhead


Scott Tuthill
 

Jason -- I believe you monitor this forum so I hope to contact you this way. I saw your eBird list of May 28 from Orchard Gulch Trailhead. I was there the same day a couple hours after you as well as yesterday. Your list has many birds on it I totally missed and I am interested in how you bird that area to see them. Some birds that stand out were: Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, the nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  I walked up the trail itself and never came across any of these birds. Did you walk up the road from the trailhead to the summit? Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can reach me here or at satuthill at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance.

Scott Tuthill


Jason Talbot
 

Hello,

For those unaware of this area, it is in the upper Boise foothills and highest elevation in Ada County. It is down the ridge a few miles from Intermountain Bird Observatory where Boise State has a banding station for owls, raptors and songbirds. 

We get a variety of birds in a few miles of upper elevation along the ridge not seen anywhere else in the county. Pileated Woodpecker for example. Species also vary by season. For example, if I remember correctly, Yellow Warbler flags (rare) earlier in spring at higher elevations when they’re in the valley but don’t get flagged currently. 

Anyway, I continued up the trail onto upper Five Mile Gulch (not road) to the summit and across the summit on the road for a little ways. I hiked up the Orchard Gulch Trail a mile or so before I started my checklist for reasons I won’t go into. I normally start my list at the trailhead. The birds you mentioned were all above tree line.

There’s an elevation filter in eBird between Five Mile and Orchard Gulch Trails as you drive up Shaw Mountain Road. Therefore, I include Upper Five Mile Gulch Trail on my Orchard Gulch list when I continue past where they intersect because of elevation change. If not, it flags many birds as rare because of the higher elevation if I were to include them on my Five Mile Gulch Trail list; which starts below the elevation threshold whereas Orchard Gulch Trail starts above the elevation threshold.

I wish the higher elevation filter were a little less sensitive but it will get dialed in eventually with enough birders reporting in that area. I’ve learned to be patient after going through some frustration because I see the wisdom in creating the elevation filter.

For example, I consistently see Black-headed Grosbeaks, Brewer’s Sparrow and swallows at the higher elevations to name a few. There are still some riparian areas above the elevation threshold as well so you’ll see a Catbird and lower elevation birds every once in a while. Chats are regulars at Orchard Gulch that get flagged.

I’d hate to see an Ada County checklist without an elevation filter that would include Cassin’s Finch as a year round option in the valley when they’re typically seen a few weeks in the spring and fall with a few exceptions yet they’re year round up top. There are several birds that fit this category. It creates a lot more identification mistakes in eBird from new birders.

Good, bad or indifferent, that’s what I decided to do since it’s similar habitat. I’m open to suggestions. I normally keep those details in the comments section but I didn’t this time. That would have helped in this situation and perhaps make this a nonissue.

The other options were create 2 checklists (not) but I’m under the 5 mile rule in the same habitat or create another hotspot which I would be opposed to. 

I liked the way I did it but I should have added comments on how I hiked it.

I think this makes for a good discussion on a couple of topics if others have thoughts.

Jason 

On Monday, May 31, 2021, 10:40:01 AM MDT, Scott Tuthill <satuthill@...> wrote:


Jason -- I believe you monitor this forum so I hope to contact you this way. I saw your eBird list of May 28 from Orchard Gulch Trailhead. I was there the same day a couple hours after you as well as yesterday. Your list has many birds on it I totally missed and I am interested in how you bird that area to see them. Some birds that stand out were: Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, the nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  I walked up the trail itself and never came across any of these birds. Did you walk up the road from the trailhead to the summit? Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can reach me here or at satuthill at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance.

Scott Tuthill


Jason Talbot
 

I take back one comment. I guess I am dealing with two different habitats within the 5 mile rule on two different trail names, not to mention the road. Riparian and deciduous. You’d most likely not see a Pileated Woodpecker in the riparian section of Orchard Gulch but you might get lucky and hear one.

Jason

On Monday, May 31, 2021, 09:13:12 PM MDT, Jason Talbot <jason.talbot1@...> wrote:


Hello,

For those unaware of this area, it is in the upper Boise foothills and highest elevation in Ada County. It is down the ridge a few miles from Intermountain Bird Observatory where Boise State has a banding station for owls, raptors and songbirds. 

We get a variety of birds in a few miles of upper elevation along the ridge not seen anywhere else in the county. Pileated Woodpecker for example. Species also vary by season. For example, if I remember correctly, Yellow Warbler flags (rare) earlier in spring at higher elevations when they’re in the valley but don’t get flagged currently. 

Anyway, I continued up the trail onto upper Five Mile Gulch (not road) to the summit and across the summit on the road for a little ways. I hiked up the Orchard Gulch Trail a mile or so before I started my checklist for reasons I won’t go into. I normally start my list at the trailhead. The birds you mentioned were all above tree line.

There’s an elevation filter in eBird between Five Mile and Orchard Gulch Trails as you drive up Shaw Mountain Road. Therefore, I include Upper Five Mile Gulch Trail on my Orchard Gulch list when I continue past where they intersect because of elevation change. If not, it flags many birds as rare because of the higher elevation if I were to include them on my Five Mile Gulch Trail list; which starts below the elevation threshold whereas Orchard Gulch Trail starts above the elevation threshold.

I wish the higher elevation filter were a little less sensitive but it will get dialed in eventually with enough birders reporting in that area. I’ve learned to be patient after going through some frustration because I see the wisdom in creating the elevation filter.

For example, I consistently see Black-headed Grosbeaks, Brewer’s Sparrow and swallows at the higher elevations to name a few. There are still some riparian areas above the elevation threshold as well so you’ll see a Catbird and lower elevation birds every once in a while. Chats are regulars at Orchard Gulch that get flagged.

I’d hate to see an Ada County checklist without an elevation filter that would include Cassin’s Finch as a year round option in the valley when they’re typically seen a few weeks in the spring and fall with a few exceptions yet they’re year round up top. There are several birds that fit this category. It creates a lot more identification mistakes in eBird from new birders.

Good, bad or indifferent, that’s what I decided to do since it’s similar habitat. I’m open to suggestions. I normally keep those details in the comments section but I didn’t this time. That would have helped in this situation and perhaps make this a nonissue.

The other options were create 2 checklists (not) but I’m under the 5 mile rule in the same habitat or create another hotspot which I would be opposed to. 

I liked the way I did it but I should have added comments on how I hiked it.

I think this makes for a good discussion on a couple of topics if others have thoughts.

Jason 

On Monday, May 31, 2021, 10:40:01 AM MDT, Scott Tuthill <satuthill@...> wrote:


Jason -- I believe you monitor this forum so I hope to contact you this way. I saw your eBird list of May 28 from Orchard Gulch Trailhead. I was there the same day a couple hours after you as well as yesterday. Your list has many birds on it I totally missed and I am interested in how you bird that area to see them. Some birds that stand out were: Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, the nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  I walked up the trail itself and never came across any of these birds. Did you walk up the road from the trailhead to the summit? Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can reach me here or at satuthill at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance.

Scott Tuthill


Jason Talbot
 

Good grief, time for me to go to bed. I got into more than I intended. The main habitats in the area above the elevation threshold are riparian, sage, hence the Brewers Sparrows, and coniferous.

There are also clusters of Cottonwoods in the riparian area that have produced some Red-eyed Vireos. Some bitter brush mixed in with sage has also produced some Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Bushtits.

Within a 3 mile hike you can hit all these habitats with a great variety of species. It’s a fun area to bird. Plus I’ve seen two Bears on two different occasions as a bonus!

May God bless and help us sustain the freedoms of this nation! Thanks to all the Veterans who have served our country! Today was a good and humbling day as I’ve thought about your sacrifice.

Good night! 


On Monday, May 31, 2021, 09:25:45 PM MDT, Jason Talbot via groups.io <jason.talbot1@...> wrote:


I take back one comment. I guess I am dealing with two different habitats within the 5 mile rule on two different trail names, not to mention the road. Riparian and deciduous. You’d most likely not see a Pileated Woodpecker in the riparian section of Orchard Gulch but you might get lucky and hear one.

Jason

On Monday, May 31, 2021, 09:13:12 PM MDT, Jason Talbot <jason.talbot1@...> wrote:


Hello,

For those unaware of this area, it is in the upper Boise foothills and highest elevation in Ada County. It is down the ridge a few miles from Intermountain Bird Observatory where Boise State has a banding station for owls, raptors and songbirds. 

We get a variety of birds in a few miles of upper elevation along the ridge not seen anywhere else in the county. Pileated Woodpecker for example. Species also vary by season. For example, if I remember correctly, Yellow Warbler flags (rare) earlier in spring at higher elevations when they’re in the valley but don’t get flagged currently. 

Anyway, I continued up the trail onto upper Five Mile Gulch (not road) to the summit and across the summit on the road for a little ways. I hiked up the Orchard Gulch Trail a mile or so before I started my checklist for reasons I won’t go into. I normally start my list at the trailhead. The birds you mentioned were all above tree line.

There’s an elevation filter in eBird between Five Mile and Orchard Gulch Trails as you drive up Shaw Mountain Road. Therefore, I include Upper Five Mile Gulch Trail on my Orchard Gulch list when I continue past where they intersect because of elevation change. If not, it flags many birds as rare because of the higher elevation if I were to include them on my Five Mile Gulch Trail list; which starts below the elevation threshold whereas Orchard Gulch Trail starts above the elevation threshold.

I wish the higher elevation filter were a little less sensitive but it will get dialed in eventually with enough birders reporting in that area. I’ve learned to be patient after going through some frustration because I see the wisdom in creating the elevation filter.

For example, I consistently see Black-headed Grosbeaks, Brewer’s Sparrow and swallows at the higher elevations to name a few. There are still some riparian areas above the elevation threshold as well so you’ll see a Catbird and lower elevation birds every once in a while. Chats are regulars at Orchard Gulch that get flagged.

I’d hate to see an Ada County checklist without an elevation filter that would include Cassin’s Finch as a year round option in the valley when they’re typically seen a few weeks in the spring and fall with a few exceptions yet they’re year round up top. There are several birds that fit this category. It creates a lot more identification mistakes in eBird from new birders.

Good, bad or indifferent, that’s what I decided to do since it’s similar habitat. I’m open to suggestions. I normally keep those details in the comments section but I didn’t this time. That would have helped in this situation and perhaps make this a nonissue.

The other options were create 2 checklists (not) but I’m under the 5 mile rule in the same habitat or create another hotspot which I would be opposed to. 

I liked the way I did it but I should have added comments on how I hiked it.

I think this makes for a good discussion on a couple of topics if others have thoughts.

Jason 

On Monday, May 31, 2021, 10:40:01 AM MDT, Scott Tuthill <satuthill@...> wrote:


Jason -- I believe you monitor this forum so I hope to contact you this way. I saw your eBird list of May 28 from Orchard Gulch Trailhead. I was there the same day a couple hours after you as well as yesterday. Your list has many birds on it I totally missed and I am interested in how you bird that area to see them. Some birds that stand out were: Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, the nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  I walked up the trail itself and never came across any of these birds. Did you walk up the road from the trailhead to the summit? Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can reach me here or at satuthill at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance.

Scott Tuthill


Scott Tuthill
 

Jason -- thanks for the note back. It makes sense now and I figured something like this was going on. The bottom mile of Orchard Gulch is riparian (at least the first 3/4 mile) then you start climbing up into the sage and bitterbrush hillsides. (BTW -- I had a singing Willow Flycatcher there about 1/2 mile up the trail from the trailhead -- surprised the heck out of me.) I have never gone beyond a mile in but I understand the trail connects with Five Mile and continues to the Ridge Road about 3 miles or so from the trailhead. By the time you get up that high you are back in the fir and pine zone. It sounds like the majority of your time, mileage, and list was on the trail after the first mile. I am going to have to go back up and spend a full day doing the whole trail like you did. That area is really a fun place to bird.

I vaguely have heard about and understand the eBird elevation filter issue. I know the intent is correct even if I always have to put in notes on various species like "not rare here". Maybe when there are more lists and data and eBird refines their processes it will smooth out. But, in the big scheme of things its not a big deal. I spend the winters outside of Tucson, Pima County. The counties in Arizona are huge with even more varied terrain than Ada County. The eBird reviewers for the county worked with eBird and have the county broken up into 20 or 30 different sub areas. (I know I have heard the number, I just don't remember it.) It was a pilot, first of a kind, project with eBird. Folk lore has it that after it was done eBird said - "we aren't really ready to do this sort of thing".

Thanks again for the reply. Hope to run into you out in the field.

Scott Tuthill